Balkan Beat Box first exploded out of Brooklyn’s underground music scene in 2005 with a self-titled debut that unleashed into the world their Mediterranean-inflected, globalized electronica Founded by Ori Kaplan (DJ Shotnez and ex Gogol Bordello) and Tamir Muskat (producer Asaf Avidan and Ape Records, ex-Firewater) the band built their reputation on explosive live shows. Shortly after forming, Balkan Beat Box drafted their collaborator Tomer Yosef to be the group’s frontman, and his wild onstage energy has been galvanizing audiences ever since.
The three emerged as a cohesive songwriting trio on 2007’s Nu Med, which featured Tamir handcrafting beats and samples, Ori orchestrating melodies and Tomer writing the hard-hitting lyrics.
With the release of 2010’s Blue Eyed Black Boy, the group took their already well-traveled sound to Belgrade and other Eastern points. Their fourth album, GIVE, reveals a harder edge. Inspired by protest movements across the globe—from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street and Israel’s social protests—the album speaks out against social ills while presenting a cautious hope and energizing spirit for our time. The band’s also a hit with other musicians and has been sampled by Mac Miller and Diplo on “Goosebumpz,” and Jason Derulo on “Talk Dirty,” a #1 hit around the world.
One of the most driving forces on GIVE is fatherhood—not surprising considering all three members of the group have recently become fathers. It’s a role that’s made each of them more aware of what’s happening in the world, and how they’re changing the planet that their children inherit. The change is more than philosophical, however. It also inspired the band to pick up new instruments, from children’s toys to analog synthesizers.
“It was kind of a crazy vibe in the studio sometimes,” Tamir says with a laugh. “We were recording some of our most hardcore songs ever, but our kids were there, running around and playing in the middle of everything. It reminded us that we’re fighting for something, not just against everything.”